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Jane Goodall Marks 60 Years of Arriving in Gombe to Begin Her Groundbreaking Research on Chimps

The 86-year-old world-renowned conservationist reflects on all she's accomplished in the last 60 years and all she has left to do to protect chimpanzees — and the planet.

Like her childhood idol, Dr. Dolittle, Dr. Jane Goodall has quite a way with animals.

Take June 20, 2013, for instance, when the beloved conservationist and animal welfare advocate and her team at the Jane Goodall Institute's Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo released a rehabilitated chimpanzee named Wounda into the lush island sanctuary site.

In a stunning video that pulled at heartstrings around the world, the chimp reached for Dr. Jane, as she likes to be called, moments after being released, and embraced the British ethologist, holding her tenderly before disappearing into the forest.

It’s not like they’d spent a lot of time together.

Since July 14, 1960, when Goodall arrived in Tanzania at the age of 26 to begin studying chimpanzees in the wild, she’s gotten to know dozens of them — including their likes and dislikes, quirks and idiosyncrasies.

“I knew them so well,” she says.

RELATED: Jane Goodall: My Life in Pictures

On Tuesday, Goodall and her eponymous nonprofit, the Jane Goodall Institute, are marking the 60th anniversary of the day she and her fiercest supporter at the time, her mother, novelist Vanne Morris Goodall, traveled to what is now Gombe Stream National Park to begin groundbreaking research that revolutionized how we think of them — and other living creatures including ourselves.

Dr. Jane Goodall Honors 60th Research Anniversary & World Chimpanzee DayOn July 14, 2020, Dr. Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute will mark the 60th anniversary of the day that she first arrived in what is now Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, to begin her ground-breaking study of wild chimpanzees. As a trailblazing researcher, Dr. Jane Goodall’s discoveries in Gombe and worldwide influence inspire generations across fields, breaking barriers in science, and beyond. Dr. Goodall’s example and story spurred a global movement.

Goodall was the first-ever person  to show that chimps communicate like humans, have personalities like humans and use and make tools.

“They are so like us,” she says.

RELATED: Jane Goodall Humbly Reflects on Her Animal Rights Legacy: 'It's Bigger Than I Ever Could Have Dreamed'

While she is proud of all she and the JGI have accomplished over the years, she says she isn’t doing much celebrating because chimpanzees are in such danger right now, for many reasons, including COVID-19.

The deadly disease which is wreaking havoc worldwide “will creep towards Gombe. Chimps are susceptible to all our contagious diseases, particularly to respiratory ones,” she says.

“The forests have been destroyed,” she continues. “They are hunted, killed, trafficked. It's hard to actually celebrate.”

On the other hand, she says, “We can celebrate the fact that we’ve been there for 60 years.”

In that time, she and her team at the JGI have worked hard to protect chimpanzees and the environment — something she is still working hard to do, even during the pandemic.

In 1986, she walked away from the forests of Tanzania so she could begin telling the world about the plight of the chimpanzees she came to love so much.

"I had to leave what I loved in order to do what I could to save what I loved,”the U.N. Messenger of Peace told PEOPLE in 2010.

The hope for the planet lies in its youth, says Goodall, who started the Roots & Shoots program at the JGI in 1991.

"I hope to leave my mark by empowering young people to take action," she told PEOPLE in 2010.

The program "began on my porch with just a few students in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1991. They are creating a better world for generations to come."

Started with 12 young people, Roots & Shoots is now active in more than 65 countries — and is still growing. “I want it to go everywhere,” Goodall told PEOPLE in 2017.

Journalist source:Baker, K. (2020, July 14). People. Retrieved from

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